Among all the patients in the second half of my life — that is to say, over thirty-five years — there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life. None of them has been really healed who did not regain his religious outlook. This of course has nothing whatever to do with a particular creed or membership of a church.

Karl Jung



When the mind relaxes into its natural state – that of the inclusive loving embrace – then everything falls into place.



Your real root is not with the ground but with your essential nature, and more importantly the connexion that essential nature has with the divine – an aspect we call destiny. To begin with in Tai Chi we root into the earth because the process of developing that root through courageous relaxation is the best model available for the beginning of the process of rooting into what deeply thrusts from our inner recesses. If we remain obsessed with the earth though, our work starts to go around in circles and ultimately lacks soul, spirit and compassion. We must be constantly vigilant for what it is that thrusts us into the next stage – the next world indeed – the one where everything we have gained seems to have no function or purpose, other than our capacity for the unknown.


Stepping Stones

Always be suspicious of and somewhat dissatisfied with the world you are gaining mastery of. Each world is full of entities happy and content, or unhappy and discontent, it makes no real difference, trapped by the illusion of existence. They have, if you like, abandoned destiny for life (and death): engaged with the living now rather than knitting and tightening into the divine. Gaining mastery is gaining understanding and energy. Together these give you power – the power to leap out of the confines of the world that gave them to you and into a new world commanded by different rules and containing different energies – different terms of engagement. In this new world your power has little purchase and needs to be abandoned – washed out – so that new more appropriate power can take its place.



The big pitfall with spiritual work is viewing the spiritual and the mundane as conflicting opposites. How do we open our hearts and embrace both in such a way that the fullness and sheer quality of the life lived overshadows either alone. Ultimately it is all a simple matter of love and embrace. Because ultimately it is not what we become that matters but what we give – to what extent do we assist others to become. A monastic life of devotional meditation and prayer will be more attractive to someone who has acute sensitivities and past traumas that make a normal mundane life, with its coarseness and vitality, unbearable. Such a monastic life is as much a retreat from the responsibility of facing up to life as it is a spiritual calling. We cannot face God if we can't face ourselves because they are fundamentally one and the same. The problem of avoidance is everywhere and it very quickly becomes ingrained. Then big upheavals are necessary to wrench the ego apart and start living courageously again. And courage means with fear – facing fear and not running away from it by creating a comfortable life where it never rears its ugly head. As my teacher once said to me – Fear is the best friend you'll ever have.



The spiritual comes into play as soon as we agree to give more than our due and receive more than our lot. Giving of love, and receiving of responsibility. Two-way traffic. In other words, as soon as we recognise and accept our primary roles as the great communicators of the universe. Tai Chi becomes a spiritual exercise as soon as the student begins to understand and enter the world of Ward-Off. Such a tender posture of emanating embraces. It swells and it contains. It is irresistible and irrepressible, and if ever there is a homecoming then it is into this king of postures. Tai Chi then becomes an ever deepening journey into ward-off which expands into new domains and dimensions – of our humanity and our divinity – as we mature and develop.

And remember that ward-off is as much in the legs/groin as it is in the arms/heart.